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Triggered, Self-Love, & Social Media Madness

By: Michael Blankenship |

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

– Buddha

Greetings from LA and Oahu (soon to be Portugal!), 

This week we’re showing you how to change your automatic behaviors, applying the five love languages to self-love (date yo’self!), and giving you a list of things you can do instead of doom scrolling through social media. 

Oh — and The Tonic is now on Instagram. Go follow us to brighten up your Insta-feed!

This week’s post is sponsored by Deepculture

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Charles Duhigg, the author of books like The Power of Habit and Smarter Faster Better has spent a lifetime studying human psychology. 

Specifically, why we do the things we do. 

His research suggests that every habit consists of three elements: a cue, a routine, and a reward. The cue is what triggers the habit, the routine is the habit itself, and the reward is why we do the habit in the first place — because it provides some sense of pleasure or relief. 

An example of this would be:

  • Cue: You feel anxious about a test tomorrow. 
  • Routine: You chew your nails. 
  • Reward: You feel relief from your anxiety. 

Now we’ve got good news and bad news. 

The bad news, as Charles Duhigg points out, is that “you can’t extinguish a bad habit.” 

But the good news follows that statement: “you can only change it.”

He continues, “Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.”

Okay Mr, Duhigg… So how do we change our habits? 

“To change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine.”

The cue and the reward of our habit cycles are sticky — you’ve probably noticed this from trying to quit bad habits in the past.

But the routine (the part we really care about anyway) is adjustable so long as it is triggered by the same cue and provides the same reward as the bad habit we’re trying to undo. 

What does this look like practically? 

Well, what if your anxiety triggered you to go for a walk, exercise, or journal instead of chewing your nails? Those habits would provide the same relief (probably more so) and could be triggered by the same cue. 

Write down a habit that you’d like to change — determine the cue, the routine, and the reward. 

Then plug a new healthier routine into that habit cycle. 

We give up so much of our control in life by not paying attention to our automatic behaviors. But by documenting our habits, and intentionally plugging in new routines, anyone can make significant change.

Here are a few articles to check out about breaking bad habits and starting new healthier ones…

Self-Love Language

This morning, as most mornings, my four-year-old daughter woke me up and asked me to make her a peanut butter “shandwich” because she is “starving”.

I did. 

Then I got a message from a client with a project needing my attention. 

I did that, too. 

Then I worked for a while. I did the dishes. I played some video games with my wife. I did a puzzle with my daughter. We went to get ice cream. And before you know it… the day was over. 

Sound familiar? 

If your life is anything like mine, the days fly by wickedly fast.

And in the shuffle of caring for the people you love — your spouse, your parents, your kids, etc. — it’s easy to forget to care for yourself.

That’s why we created this graphic… 

You’ve probably heard of the five love languages. 

But have you ever thought about how those apply to loving yourself? 

You date your spouse, you play with your kids, you give support to your parents… but what do you do for yourself? 

It’s a worthwhile exercise to think about which of the above self-love languages applies to you, and then to schedule more time for those things. 

Maybe you need to go for a walk alone every day. Maybe you need to set aside some time to go to the coffee shop and read. Or maybe you need to set aside time for doing yoga, journaling, and meditating. 

Whatever it is, schedule it. Make a routine of it. And keep giving yourself the love and attention you need.

Social Media Madness

Ever scroll through social media for a few hours and find yourself feeling worse than you did before? 

According to science, that’s not surprising. 

  • Spending more than 3 hours on social media per day puts adolescents at a higher risk for mental health problems.
  • 13% of kids ages 12-17 report depression and 32% report anxiety.
  • 25% of 18 to 25-year-olds report mental illness. 
  • These age groups report high usage of social media.

So… why do we do it? 

Remember the habit loops we were talking about earlier? 

It feels good and it takes no effort whatsoever — it’s one of the highest-reward, lowest-friction things we can do to get a quick hit of dopamine.

Sounds like a drug? 

That’s because it basically is. 

The average person spends nearly 3 hours on social media every single day. What if you replaced that routine with something healthier? 

Here are some things you could do instead of pulling out your phone…

  • Read a book
  • Go for a walk
  • Journal
  • Exercise
  • Call a friend
  • Start a new hobby
  • Practice sitting in silence

Extra Stuff

Here is some other random stuff we found interesting this last week!

Books We’re Reading

Here’s what the tribe is currently reading (let us know books you’re loving and we’ll include them in future emails!)…. 

  • Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive —  “Maid explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it’s like to be in service to them. “I’d become a nameless ghost,” Stephanie writes about her relationship with her clients, many of whom do not know her from any other cleaner, but who she learns plenty about. As she begins to discover more about her clients’ lives-their sadness and love, too-she begins to find hope in her own path.”
  • Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century“From Harriet McBryde Johnson’s account of her debate with Peter Singer over her own personhood to original pieces by authors like Keah Brown and Haben Girma; from blog posts, manifestos, and eulogies to Congressional testimonies, and beyond: this anthology gives a glimpse into the rich complexity of the disabled experience, highlighting the passions, talents, and everyday lives of this community. It invites readers to question their own understandings. It celebrates and documents disability culture in the now. It looks to the future and the past with hope and love.”
  • Educated: A Memoir“Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.”

This Week’s Image

The earth’s surface without water via reddit.

This Week’s Riddle

Here’s this week’s riddle — the answer is at the bottom of the email!

What is as big as an elephant, but weighs nothing at all?

This Week’s Journaling prompt

Take some time to think through the following journaling prompt. 

What do you want to accomplish this week? Prioritize the list in order of what’s most important urgency-wise… and then what’s most important to YOU. How can you make more time for the things you love to work on? 

This Week’s Challenge

Date yo’self! Think about which of the above self-love languages apply to you and then schedule some time to do something that will refill your tank. You need to love yourself. No one can do that for you.

Until next week, 

Mike & Alec

Riddle Answer: The shadow of an elephant.

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